Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fat Tax

And, what do you think about this?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hello, Skinny!

There's a big sign in the contemporary jeans section at Bloomingdale's that, in an ode to the skinny jeans trend, reads: "My Skinny Is Skinnier Than Your Skinny."

Um, ok. . .

I googled the phrase to find out more about this particular advertising campaign and serendipitously stumbled on this.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Book Review

I just finished Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest To Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or Why Pie is Not The Answer and wanted to discuss it here. Author Jen Lancaster also penned Bitter Is the New Black and Bright Lights, Big Ass (have you read them?), but it was this title that grabbed my attention at the local book store.

Quick disclaimer--for those with clinical eating disorders, this book could be triggering, as Ms. Lancaster's book deal is based upon her losing weight. For the "Every Woman" variety, I don't believe this piece will be triggering, but rather that you'll find yourself identifying with much of what Ms. Lancaster has to say. To be clear, it's kind of a diet book, but it's an anti-diet, diet book. You'll see what I mean. . . .

What surprises me most about her book is Ms. Lancaster's general acceptance of her weight (at any size), her ability to take weight gain in stride, and her sense of humor about it all. All this despite some challenging formulative experiences:

My mom was so damn mad at me after my freshman year, especially once she saw me in a bathing suit for the first time. I went from 135 pounds to 150 and you'd have thought I'd flunked out given her reaction. She always used to tell me her greatest fear was that I'd walk across the stage at my high school graduation overweight. Really? I remember thinking. With forty girls in my school who'd either gotten pregnant or had babies, this is her issue?
In reaction to her parents beginning officiating weekly weigh-ins, Lancaster writes:
I desperately hated the whole process, especially because I had no choice in the matter. I knew being heavier didn't change who I was, and I was furious at being forced to alter something about which I felt perfectly fine.
How many college students do you know with this kind of persepctive? More to the point, how many full-grown adults can say this for themselves?

When Ms. Lancaster begin her weight-loss journey (the point of this particular book deal), she weighs herself a couple of times in disbelief:
I trot down the hall--which I can do because I'm not completely obese--and try to calm myself down. I'm totally overreacting here. I am fine. I know I'm fine. Whatever I weigh is just a number. I'm fun and smart and I can perfectly blend three shades of eyeliner. I enjoy my own company and I make myself laugh. I dress well, even on a budget while wearing Crocs, and no one makes a banana daiquiri like I can.
I suppose it's not that surprising that she was alarmed by her weight--she chooses to focus on so much more. I find her attitude incredibly refreshing, particularly in a current cultural context that demands we focus on looks at the expense of all else.

Lancaster writes about our obsession with thin celebrities:
[Nicole Ritchie] really didn't get famous until she got pin thin. Ditto Kate Bosworth and Lindsay Lohan. And no one would have even remembered Mary Kate Olsen if she'd just eaten a sandwich once in a while. This makes me wonder how much the media plays into the self-image of [dieters]. Did they call Jenny because fashion and gossip magazines force photos of hungry women down our throats and try to make us believe their boyish bodies are the ideal? If so, we're all destined to fail.

Personally, I never want to be as thin as most of the women in this magazine; they look gross to me. The only ribs I want to see are covered in barbecue sauce.
Ms. Lancaster has had her share of weight-loss experiences, illustrating why diets don't work:
Consuming a thousand calories a day with very little protein, I felt lightheaded and weak every second for three whole months. I wasn't just hungry. I was famished. Starving. Ravenous. Not only did I want to consume my parents' cooking in vast quantities; I was in such a state that I'd look at the love of my life, a 140-pound Great Pyrenees mountain dog named George, and I'd fantasize about his tender, meaty flanks, charbroiled over a hickory-wood fire and served with a side of home fries.
Perhaps most illuminating is Ms. Lancaster's realization that food restriction can work against us. She chats with a friend:
"Funny, but when I'm not dieting I can go hours and hours without thinking about food. Some days when I'm busy it might be four in the afternoon before I remember to eat something. But now that I'm doing Atkins*, all I can think about are bagels and donuts and Lucky Charms cereal, and I'm making myself crazy."
(Spoiler alert)

In the end, Ms. Lancaster does lose some weight, and it's no surprise how. But, if you read closely, you can't help but realize that her weight-loss is just another life task for her (like writing a book, or learning a skill), accomplished with curiosity, humor, and positivity, the inspriational outcome atypically disengaged from her self-esteem.

*I had a typo on "Atkins" and guess what? Spellcheck on Blogger corrected it for me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More on Thanksgiving

An email advertising this post-Thanksgiving day workout arrived in my inbox last week. Sure, exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but can you can you identify any problems with an advertisement like this?